UK child abuse inquiry head resigns after media pressure

LONDON, July 14 Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:12am EDT

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - A retired female judge whom the British government appointed last week to lead an inquiry into allegations that public figures abused children in the 1980s has resigned from her post, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was meant to head a wide-ranging inquiry into whether public bodies, including the BBC and religious authorities, had taken their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse seriously.

However, the media, some politicians and senior figures in the legal world, had called on her to step down over what they said were perceived conflicts of interest, namely that her brother worked as the government's top lawyer at the time of the allegations.

Claims that politicians were among those who abused children in the 1980s have unsettled the current political elite at a time when Britain is grappling with revelations that several nationally beloved television personalities sexually abused children for decades.

"The decision to step down was entirely her decision," Cameron's spokesman said of Butler-Sloss, saying she had taken it after discussing the matter with Home Secretary Theresa May at the weekend. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)